Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Researchers Identify a Potential Contributor to Ebola Infectiousness

Researchers lead by Dr. William Gallaher at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center have published findings that may clarify the mechanism of Ebola infection and illness in the January 2015 issue of the journal Viruses. The article, "Modeling of Ebola Virus Delta Peptide Reveals a Potential Lytic Sequence Motif" was published in a special issue of the journal focusing on advances in Ebola and a few other diseases.

Specifically, their research traces the dangerously infectious quality of the Ebola virus to a small, toxic protein fragment that is synthesized in tandem with Ebola attachment proteins. The fragment is known as the "Delta peptide," (pictured above) and its function was known to block the Ebola virus from infecting cells already affected by the disease. The novel contribution of Gallaher's group is the suggestion that the Delta peptide may contribute to membrane permeability, thereby easing the process of entering a host cell for an Ebola virion.

This discovery is exciting because Gallaher and his colleagues have already identified potential inhibitors that could disrupt the function of the Delta Peptide, and if further studies corroborate the importance of the Delta peptide in Ebola virulence, such chemicals could be used to make drugs.

--Shubha Raghvendra


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